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Messages - geoo

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Lix Levels / Re: geoo's Lix level pack
« on: April 15, 2024, 09:09:10 PM »
Thanks for playing so far! A few comments below:

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Lix Levels / geoo's Lix level pack
« on: April 06, 2024, 09:46:30 PM »
It's finally time for me to release the Lix levels that I have created over the years. Some of them are brand new, some of them are over a decade old, but better late than never. They are part of the latest Lix download in the level folder single/geoo!

The pack has 5 ranks, which are more like themes. Each rank is independent, and you can play the ranks in any order and freely skip between them. Within a rank, I recommend playing the levels in order.

  • wrappy: Levels that make use of the horizontal and/or vertical wrapping. It turns out that even in single player, wrapping is more than a gimmick and gives rise to a lot of interesting ideas! If you only ever play one rank from this pack, this should be the one. The majority of these use 5 skills or less, but even a 3 skill level may stump you for a little bit here. These turn out to be primarily logic puzzles with very easy execution, except for maybe the last few.
  • flowy: These levels make use of dynamic crowd control: stalling, redirecting, merging crowds without fully blocking them off. These levels require thinking about when things happen as much as where, and a lot of skill placements will be unintuitive, initially. Due to the nature of this, some levels may require a bit of trial and error to find the placements, but I tried to make execution as easy as possible, and the replay tweaker should help as well. Note: 4 of these levels are also featured in the lemforum pack, but I replicated them here for the purpose of the level progression.
  • classy: More traditional and often larger levels with more skills where you need to figure out the skill placements.
  • loony: Many of these revolve around some physics quirks or some other quirky idea. A good portion of these keep it very simple, though some of the later ones may end up taking some work to get the execution right.
  • sketchy: This is where you find the levels that didn't really work out. Many of these may have some interesting underlying ideas, but somehow these ideas didn't translate into good levels. Feel free to skip this one.

The ranks are not sorted by difficulty, but rather by how interesting and fun I perceive the levels to be. Within wrappy, flowy and loony, the levels are ordered to create a level progression that gradually introduces and explores different ideas. This only loosely corresponds to actual difficulty of the level, but each of these ranks starts out gently. Classy and sketchy are sorted by how I estimate their difficulty, which may be different from how difficult.

I may add and shuffle levels in the future, so posterity, please refer to levels by their name rather than rank/number, as the number within a rank is likely to change in the future.

Thanks to Simon for playtesting, and Ramon for playing some of these during the races with Simon! The levels are part of the official lix release as of version v0.10.21 (for about a month already, so about time I make this topic), and can be found in single/geoo.

I'd be very happy to hear everyone's feedback and see your streams, videos or replays!

Just Mine (wrappy): This map wraps horizontally. Why do you have three miners here when it looks like two are enough? Play this level to find out and wish you had four miners!

Humpy Bump (wrappy): This map wraps horizontally. How can you safely build a bridge when lix are walking around everywhere?

Pommes Schranke (flowy): How do you fit your sausage (that comes with fries, ketchup and mayo) on a plate that's too small for it?

Roots of Life (flowy): Even though this level has only 5 skills, it stumped Ramon and Simon for almost an hour!

Bathroom Break (classy): Hurry before everyone else arrives!

Filter, Map, Fold (loony): The typical (functional) pipeline of reducing data to a single (summary) value. Can you do the same to this crowd of lix?

I think one major part in community history that you haven't mentioned yet is the challenges:

People put a lot of work into trying to save the maximum amount of lemmings or use the minimum amount of skills, sometimes exploiting crazy glitches in the process (like sliding or lingering blocker fields/moved trigger areas). If the discussion touches upon L2, then of course there's the surprising result that you can save every single lemming, the last find being the crazy pausing glitch abuse by ccexplore to save 100% on Sport 1.

I remember having that issue back in the day when I first played Cheapo (which may have even introduced this behavior? Or was it in WinLemm too?) It confused the heck out of me, and it took me a while to understand what was going on. I thought it was a bug and restarted the game in order to restart levels.
At the same time, it's way too useful of a feature to disable by default (thereby making it extremely hard to discover).

I'm surprised that clicking the R does not cancel the replay, having that would be a good start at least (especially if the R sufficiently stands out visually). I think realistically what Lix is doing by displaying some text is a decent solution. It's slightly inelegant, but at least should leave no room for confusion.

Lix Levels / Re: Simon streams Lix: Wed, 2024-02-07, 17:00 UTC
« on: February 06, 2024, 07:45:49 AM »
Current plan is to have a short session tomorrow (Wednesday 7th), about 1 hour, and a longer one on Thursday 8th, also 17 UTC.

Ramond: Let us know if you're around! If you're streaming separately on some other day, let me know and I'll try to join as well.

Lix Levels / Re: Simon streams Lix: Wed, 2024-02-07, 17:00 UTC
« on: February 05, 2024, 08:17:58 AM »
Hah, sure! Do you happen to be free at that time? (Of course, unless Simon wants to have a chill stream.)

Otherwise I can also see how far Simon makes it, and then compile a level progression from those levels that Simon hasn't played for you to race :)

Lix Levels / Re: Simon streams Lix: Wed, 2024-02-07, 17:00 UTC
« on: February 05, 2024, 07:19:59 AM »
If you want to watch some of the stream without getting spoiled, I'm posting the levels here, so you can have a look already (you can also find them on github if you prefer: Simon has already played some of the levels, I'm not sure if he's planning to skip those or demonstrate the solutions.
Many levels are short (more than half have 5 skills or less), and they are sorted thematically rather than by difficulty. In particular, there is a rank exploring ideas around the wrap around mechanic, and one about dynamic crowd control.

I will make a proper release thread after the stream, with backroute fixes for any levels that may have backroutes. If you don't plan on watching Simon's stream, maybe you can hold out until the proper release :)

Saturday would work great for me. Sunday I got some other plans already.

Tech & Research / Lemmings 2 graphics as PNG
« on: January 26, 2024, 05:00:00 PM »
Given some recent (and not so recent) requests for various L2 graphics, I thought it'd be good to have all of them in one place, and hopefully easy to find.
All of this is more than a decade old, but I'm not sure I've ever posted an archive of all the L2 graphics that I managed to extract, so here we go.

Tribe specific graphics:
  • l2gfx: 16x8 pixel pieces that level maps are composed of (including palette in top row)
  • l2tiles: Arrangements of the above into sensible terrain pieces
  • l2obj: Object graphics and animation
  • l2ss: Special tribe specific animations

Other graphics:
  • vlemms: all lemmings graphics (using cavelem palette -- in the game, these are recolored according to tribe palette)
  • intern: additional universal animations
  • cutscenes: Graphics from various cutscenes

If there's interest, I can dig around some more and try to find some relevant code pieces that we used for extraction.

Contests / Re: Level Design Contest #29 - Playing Phase (Update Topic)
« on: January 21, 2024, 05:59:32 PM »
Update to Dangerous Goods to fix Simon's Wurschtelei (and other potential flinging solutions). Basically changes the fling bomber into a normal bomber, and the other minor changes are just consequences of that.

I'm still contemplating reworking Origami Master as most people don't use the jumper and make the execution harder and messier, but I'll need to think about how to do this some more.

Non-Lemmings Gaming / Re: Sneak (card game)
« on: December 10, 2023, 03:52:41 AM »
I tried the game without the flaunting mechanic (same-rank mechanic), and at the end each hand is played openly. It felt like the game played quite similarly to before. (Probably needs more rounds to really determine that though. We also played single-deck, which made the game feel different by itself.)
The rule set is marginally simpler, but the last round still needs a similar amount of explaining because it is quite different from normal rounds:
  • Cards are played openly
  • No garbage allowed
  • No undercutting
  • No limit on the number of cards played

Maybe there's a more elegant way to allow a bit more play after the pile is depleted without the possibility to just sneak all your garbage home at the end. But the normal limit on the number of cards you can play (somebody must be able to challenge) can be quite a big disadvantage to the very last player.

Contests / Re: Level Design Contest #29 - Playing Phase (Discussion Topic)
« on: December 10, 2023, 03:39:05 AM »
Solved both of geoo's Lix entries. Replays attached ;) I don't smell any backroutes here!

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Both solutions are intended, though you made your life much harder on the second one (as long as you place the second blocker well, execution should have a decent amount of leeway):
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Dangerous Goods should also work with the normal bomber, haven't tested though. If certain kinds of backroutes crop up I might change it.

Lix Levels / Re: Simon streamed Lix, Sun 2023-11-26
« on: November 27, 2023, 09:57:38 AM »
As Proxima mentioned, Continuum Hypothesis is a backroute. Given my solution, it could be fixed by cutting a bomber, but my hunch is that this would eliminate Proxima's solution (which I expect is a variation that's less tight on execution).
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

For Eye of the Needle, your solution differs from the intended one quite significantly. Removing the feature that Simon exploited on the left, or bumping up the requirement to 8/10 (at the cost of slightly trickier execution) could work here.

Edit Simon 2024-02-05: I've split this discussion into a separate topic for Eye of the Needle.

Non-Lemmings Gaming / Re: Sneak (card game)
« on: November 24, 2023, 08:37:45 PM »
But I believe (untested) that same-type challenging is crucial to the endgame. In the middle game, you have two tasks: Get points with smaller sneaks and challenges, and build your one true magnificent flaunt for the endgame. That flaunt can be even of a weaker type because the rule of same-type challenging protects it. It introduces a separate direction of hand management into Sneak.
This is what I'm not sure about. I have only played it with the same-type challenging, I think it would be interesting to see if/how the dynamics change without it. I don't see any clear argument in favor or against it.
The main reason I suggested trying to cut it was to simplify a game while cutting a mechanic what I perceived to be weak (at least mid-game).

And this build-up of tension -- you have exactly one flaunt during the game, at the very end -- goes in a great way with your proposed cut of mid-game flaunting for simplicity. It sounds wonderful on paper.

Downside: Same-type challenging is a special rule only for the very end, with unclear purpose. If somebody happens to make the same type of combination, you're hosed while everybody else's flaunt stands. That will feel random. If we remove the restriction of same-type challenging, more people get hosed. It will still feel random; will it feel better?
That's not really how it works in practice. Why would you build up to a big flaunt? You're better off using your good cards to catch a sneak (or at least sneak in the hope of catching someone else's cards), rather than just bringing them home. This is what happened in practice: good stuff was played to sneak or catch sneaks, while at the end the flaunts were just cobbled together with what was left. Unless you reward the flaunting at the end (everybody flaunts and the same time and the winner takes it all?), I don't see what you described happening at all.

Worthless leftover cards seem like the cleanest design, both for easy bookkeeping and to avoid extra rules like no-undercutting. I really want to make that work. I'm open to switching to negative points when worthless cards don't produce the desired strategic late-game decisisons.
Negative points for leftover cards was probably the single most significant rule change, and affected the whole dynamics near the end of the game. Our games were too close anyway to compare stacks by height, so you had to count. But we just removed the same amount from our point stack and then counted. Most played had nothing left anyway, I don't remember if anyone ever had more than 2 cards left. I think the negative points at the end are quite natural (and similarly the no undercutting rule), and adds barely any complexity. I don't think it's unelegant. It brings a great improvement to the game dynamics at (in my opinion) pretty much no cost.

I really found it interesting how the dynamics change as the game progresses, pretty easy-going at the beginning, people get more agressive as the game progresses, some exciting maneuvres as the pile draws to an end, and completely different dynamics in the final round. I don't see this happening if remaining cards don't score negative. The pressure to get rid of cards really adds to the later game.

After the rounds from the last days, the cutting of flaunting discussed above is really the only change I can think of at this point that seems promising (but for the reduction of complexity, I don't expect much of an impact on the game dynamics).

Non-Lemmings Gaming / Re: Sneak (card game)
« on: November 23, 2023, 11:36:34 PM »
The last two nights we played a couple of rounds with two different rulesets, 4-7 handed, double standard deck. Initially, I adjusted the base rules as follows:

  • Card ranks: Straight flush, n of a kind, straight, flush, high card (aka garbage). Rationale: To turn a single card into a hand, there are 4/2 outs for straight flush, 7/3 outs for n of a kind, 16/8 outs for straight, 25/12 outs for flush (double deck/single deck). Similar heuristics apply for going from 2->3 cards, and this only breaks down for very large hands. (For single deck, I believe a very long straight is more likely than a very large flush.) It's not a 100% formal argument, but sounds plausible.
  • You cannot flaunt garbage. You can flaunt or sneak single cards.
  • Even if you flaunt or sneak, you draw a card after your turn. (After rather than before is important, because drawing a card clearly indicates that you're ending your turn.)
  • After the last card has been drawn, everyone gets one more chance to flaunt (you can still decide to skip, if you want to). After that flaunting round the game is over.
  • The limit on cards does not apply for flaunting, only for sneaking: You can flaunt more cards than any of the other players have. The rationale here is that players who get a late last turn may have saved a decent hand (e.g. 5 card straight), but everyone else has already got rid of the last cards. At the same time, you cannot abuse this because you can't flaunt garbage.
  • You cannot undercut a flaunt in order to get rid of cards (you can only play if you beat the highest hand on the table).
  • After the game is concluded, cards that remain on a player's hand count as negative points.

The last rule is crucial: This discourages bunkering, at least in the later stages of the game. The rounds we played were very dynamic and fun. The endgame was an important part of the game and quite strategic. My concern that you get huge sneaks just before the flaunting round didn't materialize. If people realized they had too much garbage on their hand, they sometimes challenged with garbage just to get rid of cards, but I don't see this as an issue.

But we when we reflected on the rules, we got conscious again of the issue that challenging feels better than sneaking. Thus, we played with an adjustment:

When a sneak or flaunt goes unchallenged, instead of drawing 1 card, you draw the amount of cards that you sneaked/flaunted. This makes mid-game flaunting slightly useful, and sneaking more enticing. People were more encouraged to sneak (especially many cards), at the same time people were also encouraged to challenge to deny the reward. However, the former seemed to outweigh the latter, thus making sneaking more attractive overall.

In the end, I think this rule set is pretty solid. The only unelegant aspect I see is that mid-game flaunting is still not that useful.

So I had the following other ideas (which we didn't have the chance to try out though):
  • To reduce complexity, I considered cutting flaunting entirely: During the last round, cards still have to be played openly, but the leading player does not determine what kind of hand can be played (so like with sneaking, best overall hand wins). You are still not allowed to undercut in order to get rid of your cards. The hand type constraint at the end of the game is interesting, but I don't know if it's a positive or negative thing.
  • Before we thought of the rule of drawing n card if your sneak/flaunt goes unchallenged, I suggested allowing players to draw 2 cards after a sneak (regardless of outcome). But I think the rule we ended up playing with is more interesting. Sneaking is encouraged, and I don't know if challenging is still better than sneaking. But if you perceive that it still is, sneaking/flaunting could be sweetened further by allowing to draw 2 cards after your turn, and n+1 if your sneak is unchallenged.
  • We didn't try the suggestion from the previous post (not challenging is rewarded with drawing a card). It sounds interesting, but my main concern is that the pile will get depleted too fast like this. Especially near the end of the game, if there are many players, you last chance to sneak may be while there are still 20 cards on the pile, because next time it is your turn the pile is gone.

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